The Venkat Trust works in the village of Kovalam in the south east Indian state of Tamil Nadu, some 40 kms south of Chennai. Alas, its economy does not reflect the beauty of its situation on the Coromandel Coast and most of its 7,000 inhabitants eke out a living in very poor conditions. The village relies almost entirely on fishing for its livelihood and the average wage is about £1 a day for an unskilled worker and £2.30 for a bricklayer or similar craftsman.
The Kovalam Confusion
There’s Kovalam in Tamil Nadu and Kovalam in Kerala and much confusion as a result. The Kerala Kovalam, on the southern tip of India, is a thriving tourist resort, while our Kovalam on the east coast is anything but.
The Boxing Day Tsunami
The villagers saw the wave roll in and most were able to escape, although ten sadly lost their lives. The village itself was badly damaged with many house reduced to rubble and most of the fishing boats, on which Kovalam depends for its livelihood, were lost or destroyed. Government help was slow and a new charity, the Kovalam Tsunami Appeal, was set up to supply rice for 600 families and then raised £14,000 to pay for catamarans for the fishermen.